>Recently I wrote a post about being set apart vs blending in with the world around us. God has really been speaking to my heart since then, and I just had to share!
First of all, a couple of blogger friends commented on the post. They definitely added some fuel for thought, and I was ready to dig right in – commenting back, asking them questions, and getting a conversation going. But, I felt an urgency to not discuss with them, but to just listen awhile. I’m so glad I did!
As the days passed, Luke’s comment came up in Bible study. I don’t even remember exactly how it fit in, but it did and it was so appropriate! Meanwhile, Stephanie’s comment was in my mind as I read several verses in Galatians. Their comments helped me really process through the practical implications of being set apart for Christ and what that really means.
So, what are my recent thoughts? Should we be set apart? Without a doubt! But, should that be our focus? I think perhaps not.
Three ideas have been standing out to me as I’ve prayed and read. Is this an exhaustive list? By no means! But, these are the things God has been showing me lately.
First of all, Gal 1:10 reminds us that our goal should be to please God. Not to woo people into the kingdom or even make every effort to be different – just to please God. If we are seeking to please God instead of anyone around us, we will stand apart, but we will also be able to impact the world around us.
I’ve thought of many different mental images to exemplify this thought, but I decided to keep it close to home. So, think with me about homeschooling. Doug and I have chosen to teach our children here at home. We could list many, many reasons for it – the condition of the school systems, the subject matter being taught in government schools, the maximization of time spent “doing school,” the protection of our children, and on and on and on. But, essentially, we homeschool because we desire to be obedient. We do not do it to stand apart and be different. We do not do it to shelter our children. We do it because, as our children were approaching school age, we sought the Lord and asked Him how He would have us educate our children. He led us to homeschool. And He has provided everything we have needed to obey Him.
Secondly, we are called to place our trust in God alone. Isaiah 31:1 points to those who seek the strength of the world rather than the strength of the Lord. If we strive wholeheartedly to put our trust in the Lord, we will not only stand out in a crowd, but we will also stand as incredible examples of the fact that the Lord never fails!
Think about it this way – what do we rely on for our daily provision? Do we rely on the regularity of that paycheck, or do we rely on the Lord to work through that paycheck or any other assistance He brings our way? I will be honest – if we lost our paycheck today, I would have to greatly force myself to be reminded that God is in control and He is going to take care of everything. But, I would do it. I have done it before, and He has been faithful. I have fretted, I have prayed, I have begged, I have cried – but I have still trusted. And He has always provided. So, even though it is an incredible blessing to have the confidence of a regular paycheck, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that provision for my family does not come from that paycheck. It comes from the Lord, and the paycheck is how He is choosing to provide.
Finally, if we are focused simply on being different, what good things might we give up?
Let me illustrate with a picture that can be seen among many churches in America. A baby church is born from a split from a denominationally affiliated church. The baby church has become so frustrated with the limitations of the denomination that they decide to totally put aside anything that could tie them to that denomination. They cannot sing the same songs. They must totally change their order of service. They cannot structure their leadership in the same way. They cannot operate their finances in a way that resembles the denomination. Seem ridiculous? I have been in a church with this mentality. I have seen it with my own eyes. In an effort to be totally different from the original church or denomination, they gave up many of the things that would have helped them to be a solid new church reaching a different social group. Originally they split because of a desire to be obedient to do things the Lord’s way. But, their focus shifted. They became more focused on being set apart from the denomination than on being obedient. And because of that, they faltered.
I personally have so far to go in the training of my mind to be more focused on obedience than on bucking against the world. But, God is teaching me. He’s teaching me through His Word and through the growth of friends. So, thanks, Stephanie and Luke, for the thoughts, and thank You, Lord, for the training! Please help me learn more and more just to keep my eyes on You!